Darebin City Council

Ms HUTCHINS (Minister for Local Government) — This morning I rise to make a statement about Darebin City Council. I have tabled a report of the municipal monitor, Mr Peter Lewinsky, along with copies of correspondence between myself and the mayor of the City of Darebin. Appointed by the former government, Mr Lewinsky’s terms of reference required him to monitor a range of matters to do with council governance. To seek resolution to matters raised with me, I sent a letter to the council on 30 April, seeking a response to a number of issues raised by Mr Lewinsky. I have tabled this report in order to inform the council and the community of the major issues he has identified. I have also included a copy of the correspondence between me and the mayor.

Mr Lewinsky notes there have been significant improvements in council governance policies during his time as monitor. However, it is disappointing that some issues remain. Firstly, there is a lack of respect shown by and a breakdown in the working relationship between councillors, and I am concerned at the number of in camera sessions and special meetings that are occurring. The second issue identified by Mr Lewinsky is the failure to have administrative processes in place to ensure effective compliance with council policies.

As a result, I have written to the Special Minister of State to ask him to appoint two special inspectors of municipal administration to work with the council to rectify some of these concerns. The first inspector will have skills in mediation and conciliation and will work with councillors so that they can better work together. The second person will be tasked with reviewing and assisting council to implement sound strategies.